PROVIDENCE - Officials from Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the F-35 Lightning II, stopped by the R.I. Department of Administration Thursday afternoon to discuss the need for the fifth-generation fighter aircraft and how its manufacture will benefit Rhode Island’s economy.
During the event, Bob D. DuLaney, Manager F-35 Customer Engagement for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. explained to those representing the defense industry that much of the nation’s defense aircraft are aging and have been in service for decades.
“The requirement is real,” he said, adding that The Lightning is the world’s most advanced multirole fighter jet and will provide the military with the capabilities and technologies needed to defend the country.
But the military is not the only entity to benefit from the emergence of the Lightning II. According to Lockheed Martin, small businesses from Rhode Island, and 45 other states, contribute directly to the F-35 program. In the Ocean State, Lockheed said, the program currently supports more than 50 direct and indirect jobs and has an economic impact of $3.2 million annually.
Currently, there are six suppliers in Rhode Island that contribute to the effort, including North Kingstown’s Hexagon Metrology and Smithfield’s LaserFare.
Across New England, about 277 suppliers contribute, resulting in more than 18,000 direct and indirect jobs, and $1.2 billion in economic impact.
Those in attendance at Thursday’s event also had the chance to hop in the pilot seat of Lockheed’s F-35 cockpit demonstrator, which allows participants to get a feel for what’s it’s like to fly the aircraft. The demonstrator highlights the planes technologies and combat capabilities in an interactive environment.